You can smell it in the air and smell it on your skin: summer is almost here. Exploring the outdoors, enjoying the plants and flowers in full bloom, the longer hours of sunshine and the warmer weather, is the modus operandi for most people at this time of year. Maybe you have some low-key plans for relaxing on the beach, car camping with your family, or lounging in your own backyard. Or maybe you have bigger adventures on the horizon, like hiking, cross country running, or planned wildlife encounters in remote landscapes.
Here are the best books to not only inspire and entertain you, but also to teach you the art of suffering and how to push yourself to achieve your goals. Adventurers who enjoy the outdoors will find these books useful, either as a glimpse into a world very different from yours, or as a map of trips you might like to try. From climbing the world’s tallest mountains in winter to spending time with bears in Alaska to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, walking and hiking as an elixir of peace and healing, these books are all interesting reads.
The art of suffering
Readers new to hiking will find much to learn from Diana Helmuth How To Suffer On The Outdoors: A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking And Backpacking (2021, 224 pages). This guide, written by an everyday outdoor woman, will walk you through the basics: equipment, clothing, shelter, shoes, food, water, navigation, hygiene and keep your cool in the event of a problem. Fun illustrations by Latasha Dunston, useful hiking know-how, and lists of supplies educate readers and hopefully inspire newbies to exercise caution and get out on their first big backyard adventure. -country. Do you have questions about using a pee cloth? Do you know the difference between a personal locator and a satellite messenger? What about wild medicine kits? Do you need a bear canister? All these questions and many more will be answered in this practical guide.
Learning to cope
An important reading, Marching Peace: Veterans Heal on America’s Paths by Cindy Ross (2021, 208 pages) is about the restorative benefits that are gained with time spent in nature. Whether you are trying to navigate the world of PTSD or everyday stressors, this book gives readers a glimpse into the world of “ecotherapy”. Learn how the trail provides, reveals and heals through the personal stories of veterans who have found healing solutions in the great outdoors. Access programs and resources that help veterans like: Higher Ground, National Outdoor Leadership School, Operation Purple Healing Adventures, Outward Bound, Sierra Club Military Outdoors, Veteran Expeditions, Warrior Expeditions, and Wounded Warrior Project.
Sitting around the campfire
Ilyssa Kyu and Dave Kyu Campfire Stories: Prompts for Lighting Stories with a Fire (2021) are the perfect addition to an overnight family camping trip. This collection of 50 cards will even keep the quiet member of your party talking. The authors encourage storytellers to connect with their family and friends by building a good story, an authentic story, and told with an engaging pace and rhythm. Objects around the campsite (sticks, stones, plants, etc.) can also be used as props. Each card has a story starter that begins with the words “Tell a story about…”, followed by a single prompt. “Tell a story about an unexpected encounter with an animal.” “Tell a story about a time you got lost or stranded.” “Tell a story about a time when you pushed yourself further than you thought you could go.” Everyone around the household will love to hear these local stories.
Dreaming of Alaska
Alaska is one of our country’s most alluring states for its unspoiled wilderness, wildlife, history and culture. If you want a handy guide to help you plan your trip, one that includes suggested itineraries and activities by season, look no further than Fran Golden and Midgi Moore’s. 100 things to do in Alaska before you die (2021, 192 pages).
For an in-depth look at the lives of Alaskan brown bears, read Bjorn Dihle A Shape in the Dark: Living and Dying with Brown Bears (2021, 208 pages). Written by a professional nature guide, this book delves into the environmental stressors that threaten bear lives and encroach upon the wild places dear to the author and intrepid travelers. These thoughtful essays give readers an awareness of what it might be like to grow up with easy access to remote landscapes, hunt, and explore the land where brown bears roam.
Do the hard thing
Exposing yourself, seeing what you are capable of, and testing your body’s limits, your determination and your courage teaches us that we can, in fact, do difficult things. Heather “Anish” Anderson has written a second book on hiking, titled Mud, Rocks Blazes: let go on the Appalachian Trail (2021, 240 pages). Anderson set the fastest known time record for her self-guided hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013 and she propelled herself into the game for her attempt to break another record on the Appalachian Trail. This book will guide you through her emotional roller coaster of doubt, despair, and willpower as she sets out on foot for a solo adventure on the 2,180 mile trail. She learns to love herself along the way, while also appreciating those who have helped her achieve her goals, and she is someone you will appreciate as you read the book from start to finish.
You might never be the type of person who climbs high peaks in the winter putting your life on the line, but you might be the kind of human who likes to read about it from the safety of your own tent. . Bernadette McDonald’s Winter 8000: climb the highest mountains in the world during the coldest season (2020, 272 pages) takes you on a global adventure, retracing the winter climbs of the fourteen highest peaks on the planet. Learn the stories of what motivates and drives mountaineers to the top in cold weather, struggling with wind, less oxygen, accidents and insecurity. How do these explorers justify the astonishing risks? How do they ward off boredom and loneliness? What do their families think when they have to say goodbye to them? You will find answers in these accounts, but many questions will remain in the ether. And, if you find yourself breathing deeply and looking up to assess your surroundings while reading this book, you are not alone.
Bucket List Adventure
Humans have a great need to connect with others, to form societies and to feel included. The backpacking community is one of the most inclusive groups, welcoming people from all walks of life. In Barney Scout Mann’s book, Journeys North: The Pacific Ridge Trail (2020, 320 pages), readers learn the stories of several hikers as they travel from Mexico to Canada on one of America’s most beloved hikes. Barney is a hiker and trail angel who has nurtured relationships in the great outdoors. If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling long distances through different ecosystems, alongside a group of unique characters, where humanity is fully on display, then this is the book to open.